Building Retail Brick by Brick, Audrey McLoghlin, Podcast #116

Audrey McLoghlin is the Founder & CEO of high-end retail brands Frank & Eileen, and Grayson. Audrey and I talked about her path to becoming a retail designer, wholesale and a direct to consumer business. Through all of this she has managed to keep 100% ownership of her company. She is in the 100% club.

You can listen to it on iTunes here.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Bryce T.

    Building Retail Brick by Brick, Audrey McLoghlin, Podcast #116″I always say it takes ten years of blood, sweat, and tears to become an overnight success.” “I saw it all the time, people they want to be everything to everyone, and then you’re going to be nothing to nobody.”0:39 Family is all from Ireland. Mom, fearless. In ‘70’s came to America to make a better life for her family at age 24. 2:10 Moved around a lot when younger. Born in Toronto. Dad got opportunity to work in New York City. Father was an engineer. Lived in New Orleans and Atlanta moving from opportunity to opportunity.3:33 Went to Georgia Tech. Majored in industrial engineering. Parents said, “You can do anything you want. We support you in anything. As long as you’re a doctor, a lawyer, or engineer.”4:43 Then went to Boston during dot com boom and worked for a MIT startup, for two years. “Good times had by all, especially if you were a female, because there were no women.”4:49 JW: “Boston, actually, I think sort of lost the plot, in regards to investing.”5:44 Was in Boston for just two years. “I really wanted to learn about manufacturing. I really like had this bug, I wanted to be in the fashion business as weird as it sounds coming from engineering.” “To this day, people say are you a fashion designer and I usually want to say no, I just think of myself as a business person.” 6:41 So that was obviously was sitting back of your head for a time period. “Yes and no. I had no idea young. I just knew that I wanted to build something.” “I have that fearlessness and drive that my mom has, and got it from her, and she always tried to nurture that.”7:56 So you left Boston, and where did you go? Moved to Los Angeles. “If I want to learn manufacturing, the only place I can think of in the United States that would really still have that is Los Angeles.” “I thought if you want to be a fashion designer, then you go to New York City…that’s how I thought about it.”8:42 So how did you begin? “It was kind of funny. I went to a post office. And I was standing in line forever at this post office in Marina Del Ray. And somehow got to know everybody that I was in line with. And talking about what I want to do. So this guy was like you have to go and work for my cousin, she’s a brilliant designer, but she doesn’t really know how to run the business.”9:55 What did she make? She was a high-end jewelry designer. “I learned a lot about it because I saw this very common thing where if someone is a really good designer and they have this incredibly creative mind, it’s very hard for them to run the business.”10:33 “One of the best books I’ve ever read was talking about, if you love baking, do not start a bakery. If you love being a business person, start a bakery.”11:26 How long did you hang out in jewelry? Only there for a year. “And then I decided I wanted to go out on my own and start my first business.” Around 2004. Multi-brand retail boutique. Brick and mortar. In Manhattan Beach. Open for seven years.12:23 JW: “There is something nice about the brick and mortar experience because you get to know who your customer is.”13:04 You must of learned a lot about fashion through that and the voids that are in the market that you thought you could fill. “It was interesting because I had this tiny 644 sq. ft store, and would sell enormous amounts of certain things…I was so closely connected to the customer and I knew what they needed and what was missing and could sell a lot of things. And then they would sell out and discontinue it, and this would happen over and over. So I was like, okay maybe my first brand needs be something that makes these pieces that are timeless and that they’re always going to need, but that from brands they disappear.” 14:22 Starting first brand. Then worked with different manufacturers and people weren’t interested in working with me, or very patronizing…”you’re pretty, but we’re not interested.” 15:07 “Fashion world is way more male than people realize.”15:37 When you launched your brand was it an immediate online situation? Back then it was just wholesale. Seven pieces, seven colors.15:55 First brand named Ode. Lesson in naming your company and branding. “It needs to be something so easy for people to grab on to and understand and talk about without being worried they’re not saying the right thing.”17:30 Egregious terms with manufacturer. “How in the world am I going to meet these minimums and these terms.” Minimums then were very different than minimums now. 18:51 Technology in manufacturing. Fast casual business.19:21 So when you decide to launch Frank & Eileen what was the decision and what was the brand going to look like? Happened by accident. “I found this book of menswear Italian fabrics and I just lost my mind.” “So I go home, look up the company, call Italy, and they answer my call, and they agree to meet with me in L.A. and we launched Frank & Eileen together. And we’ve been partners for 10 years.”20:28 You basically funded this thing by yourself. How did you do that? “I have no idea.” “Again, it goes back to, I didn’t really think about it, it was just like who I was and where I needed to go. And I think it goes all the way back to my childhood.”21:30 Father was highly abusive. “Childhood was like survival mode. We were just always hoping no one was going to die. That we were going to make it through the next day.” “You don’t really know you’re in it, because you’re in it.”22:10 In Jerry Colonna’s book, “If you bring in 100 entrepreneurs into the room, and you ask them, how many of you grew up in a household where you were expected to be an adult much earlier, than when you became an adult. 99 of them would raise their hand.”23:56 “It molds you forever.” “Growing up, it was like, everything in my life will be about making sure that I’m never in the position that my mother was in.” “I will never put myself in a situation where I depend on anyone for anything ever.” “I’m going to build something for myself, for me. And I think that’s why I ended up becoming an entrepreneur at twenty-five.”24:52 Launching Frank & Eileen25:53 Launched September, 2008, “And then the world ended.”26:56 When did you create the online platform? A few years later. “It’s a completely different animal, so we didn’t touch it.”27:55 “And then Oprah Magazine calls one day.” 28:29 “So I call up some web designers, ‘I need to design and build and launch an e-commerce site in three weeks.’”29:24 As you’ve grown there’s many more products on your site, are those curated or are you making those yourself?31:02 Just listening to your story, you have such a business mind, and you’ve done the things that people learn about in business school. “I saw it all the time, people they want to be everything to everyone, and then you’re going to be nothing to nobody.”32:26 Do you also do wholesale still? As of 2018, 50%the business is DTC, and 50% is wholesale. Only brick and mortar store is in Tokyo. So in 2013 was named the #1 brand in Japan.33:04 Why Tokyo?33:44 “You’re famous in Japan, you have to come here.”35:03 So you’re never going to have to raise money…? “I don’t think so.” “I always say it takes ten years of blood, sweat, and tears to become an overnight success.” “Ten years later I own 100% of my company, wildly profitable, I can make any decisions that I want.”35:41 “That’s the freedom that I think that you dream of with entrepreneurship. It’s never what it seems, and you’re going to work harder than you could ever imagine. But there is a freedom in that. I’m choosing to work this hard. I’m choosing to grow the business. I get to make all the decisions.”36:30 “Now it’s exciting, it’s easier than ever to start a business, but because of that it’s incredibly noisy. It’s easier to start but harder to grow.”38:14 Just launched a new company, called Grayson. Wanted a new modern brand, and purpose driven. “Everything clicked for me, I became a mother, and I’m like, oh, everything makes sense, women are f*cking superheroes.”

    1. Gotham Gal